Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has authorized a concentration camp for men suspected of being homosexuals, according to reports by human rights groups. The news comes a week after allegations officials in the region have been detaining and murdering gay men.
Novaya Gazeta, a newspaper known for its criticism of the Russian government, reports inmates are killed or forced to promise to leave the republic. The goal, the paper says, is “the complete cleansing of Chechnya from men of non-traditional sexual orientation.” One former inmate says he was forced to pay bribes to police every month just to survive. Another revealed he and others were tortured to force them to divulge the names of other gay men.
According to European analyst and former State Department staffer Paul Goble, the camp is located in former military headquarters in Argun.
“We are working to evacuate people from the camps,” Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network, told MailOnline. “Some have now left the region. Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death.”
Kadyrov has maintained the purge is not happening, as there are no homosexuals in Chechnya. “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” a spokesperson told the state news agency Interfax.